Updated: Apr 1
Over the past couple of years, RewardStyle has become the go-to site for new fashion and lifestyle bloggers wanting to make money from their sites. I am obviously a big fan of bloggers making money (hi, hello, blogger here!), so you may be surprised to learn that I generally don’t recommend RewardStyle. With a little bit of hard work, you can earn money from monetization on your own, while possibly making more money and and also building relationships with brands that can benefit you for years to come.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many pros to using RewardStyle for monetization, including:
• It’s incredibly easy to find and link to products
• Hundreds of advertisers are listed in one easy-to-use interface
• You don’t need to wait to get accepted into each advertisers affiliate program before you can promote them, since you will immediately have access to all advertisers partnered with RewardStyle
• Various widgets make it easy to create visually appealing images that will earn you money
• Tweet or post your favorite items to Facebook (with affiliate links attached) at the click of a button
• LIKEtoKNOW.it has become one of the prime ways bloggers make money from Instagram and you have to be a RewardStyle member to use the service
While there are quite a few pros to RewardStyle, there are also quite a few negatives – and I say this as a RewardStyle publisher myself. Some of the negatives include:
• They are cliquish and don’t accept everyone into the network
• This cliquishness extends to events, like their yearly conference, which is only for “top” performers (when in theory you would think that a conference would most benefit those that could use a boost and additional education…)
• Once you apply, their approval process can take months
• They kick people out of the network if they are underperforming
• The network frequently touts “best” practices, which can lead to homogenization of blog content
• Commission earned from each brand is unclear and varies
• The most attention is paid to the highest-earning publishers
• The best collaborations are given to the highest-earning publishers
While RewardStyle is usually one of the first ways that new bloggers learn they can make money from their blogs (and the only way that some bloggers use to monetize), I encourage you to think of RewardStyle as just ONE of the options and use it to supplement your other affiliate marketing efforts.
Personally, I use RewardStyle sparingly.
I use it primarily when I want to talk about brands I don’t have other affiliate relationships with, like Kate Spade and Forever21. However, if the brand has an affiliate program through any of the affiliate networks, then 9 times out of 10, I will choose to work directly with the brand and do not go through RewardStyle. I don’t depend on RewardStyle to be my sole source of affiliate income and you don’t have to either!
As with most things, it’s best to diversify. What if RewardStyle shut its doors tomorrow? I’m certainly not saying that’s going to happen but it’s not outside the realm of possibility and I’d hate for anyone to suddenly be unable to make money from their blogs! If blogging is your business, always have a back-up plan. And then a back-up plan to the back-up plan because this is a constantly evolving business.
When you become a RewardStyle publisher you have access to every advertiser they work with, and the reason for this is because RewardStyle is a subaffiliate network. This means that RewardStyle has the relationship with the advertiser… not you. RewardStyle is like a middle man. The benefit to this is that they can sometimes negotiate higher commission rates because of the sheer number of sales they send to advertisers, but the downside is that they make all of the rules and all you can do is play by them.
RewardStyle did NOT start the affiliate marketing movement. Whether you were rejected from RewardStyle or are just looking for alternatives to RewardStyle, I promise that there are many other companies that will help you make money from your blog.
With traditional affiliate marketing, YOU build the relationship with the advertiser and advocate on behalf of yourself. The ability to work directly with and build relationships with brands is the number one reason why I don’t recommend RewardStyle to bloggers. When you work directly with a brand you can do things like:
• Request commission increases
• Request better terms in general (perhaps a longer cookie length or a custom discount code)
• Request samples for review
• Sponsored posts (Yes! Advertisers frequently reach out to people in their affiliate networks about doing sponsored posts. This is IN ADDITION to any affiliate income you may earn from your post!)
None of these are options when you rely solely on RewardStyle for your blogging income. Instead, RewardStyle, as the actual “person” working with advertisers, gets opportunities for things like samples and sponsored posts that they pass along to their top performers. While I’m a member of the network, I still don’t generally recommend RewardStyle.
I do applaud them for making it easier for bloggers to make money. BUT I also promise that the rewards can be greater for you if you take the time to learn all that you can about affiliate marketing because then you are the one fully in control and reaping all of the benefits of your hard work. If you want to make a serious income from blogging, you should take the time to learn all that you can about affiliate marketing and diversify the networks that you work with.
Like I said before, there are plenty of alternatives to RewardStyle that I would recommend, including:
Awin has one HUGE draw that I many fashion bloggers are going to love and that’s the Etsy affiliate program! If you regularly write about products that you find on Etsy then you will want to join Affiliate Window ASAP!
Amazon Associates is easily one of the easiest affiliate networks to get started using and since they pretty much sell everything and anything it’s an easy alternative to RewardStyle. When anyone clicks on the link for an Amazon product you recommend and then purchases that item, you will earn a commission! Not to mention, you will also earn commission on that person’s entire Amazon order!
AvantLink is mostly geared toward outdoor activities, so it makes sense that you will find companies like REI, Moosejaw, and Patagonia here, but browsing through I also found companies like Current/Elliott.
CJ, formerly Commission Junction, is one of the largest affiliate networks and represents some of the largest stores out there. Just a sample of the companies you will find listed on CJ include the Gap brands (Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy), 6pm.com & Zappos.com, American Eagle Outfitters, Bluefly, and many, many more! If you want to make money from your travel blog, I cannot more highly recommend joining the TripAdvisor affiliate program via CJ.
eBay wants to pay you to encourage people to shop on their site! True story! Once you get savvy using eBay Partner Network you can even make money by driving people to your own eBay sales! I should note that eBay is pretty strict about the sites they accept into their network, and do not have the open-door policy that some of the other affiliate companies have.
The biggest company you will find in Impact Radius’ interface is TARGET!
At Pepperjam you will find a diverse range of stores, including Levi’s, BaubleBar, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Torrid, and many more.
Rakuten Linkshare is one of the biggest affiliate networks and they represent hundreds – if not thousands – of stores/companies. Some of the stores you will find within the Rakuten Linkshare interface include Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, DKNY, Joie, Lane Bryant, Sephora, and more!
This is one of my favorite affiliate networks, and I think they’re one of the most blogger-friendly networks, too! ShareASale represents many different stores and companies that you won’t find on other affiliate networks. Wine companies, magazine companies, stationery companies, and hundreds of other retail outlets all call ShareASale home. ShareASale is popular with smaller independent companies like Craftsy, but some big names you’ll find here include brands like Warby Parker and Reebok.
ShopStyle Collective is part of the PopSugar family and while you can go on there and search for pretty much anything in the world, it is also an affiliate site! When you use their links you will receive money anytime anyone clicks those links. (Unlike most affiliate sites, ShopStyle does not offer a percentage of the sale.) For those that are new to fashion blogging, ShopStyle Collective is one of the easiest sites to use as it lets you easily grab links and find items to post about.
Most affiliate networks work with hundreds, if not thousands, of different companies and brands. The brands listed above are just very small examples of what you might find at each affiliate network.
What other alternatives to RewardStyle do you use?